School Closures and Student Harms

Recommendations for Accreditors

In recent years, colleges, universities and vocational schools have been closing at historically high rates. These closures have been driven by an array of factors including demographic fluctuations, regulatory changes, increased scrutiny over consumer protections, financial pressures, techno- logical developments, and shifts in student desires and behavior. Regardless of the cause, without adequate safety measures and advance planning, an institutional closure is likely to yield dramatic, negative consequences for students. When a closure comes precipitously, i.e., without warning to students, accreditors, and regulators, students can be left stranded with their academic and financial future upended. Accreditors can and therefore must use their powers to re- quire schools to adopt policies and procedures that will help identify and allay the risk of closure, but also adopt plans to mitigate, if not eliminate, many of the consequences in the event of closure.

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